The third round of the KZCC 2017 again saw a lot of fascinating fighting clashes - and the first defeat of the former leader and two times winner of the tournament, Hikaru Nakamura. The American was beaten by the Russian Peter Svidler, who after a quiet manoeuvring battle in the English Opening, found a very beautiful combination beginning with 23...Nf5! that eventually forced a favourable ending for black with both players having a rook and a queen, but Nakamura's king was in some danger and his pawns were easy targets for the opponent's heavy pieces. Maybe the game still could have been held, but Svidler played very energetically and led the game in a rook ending with two passed pawns on the queenside that proved to be an easy win for black.

The American Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura is the man of the first two rounds of the KZCC, scoring his second successive win today against Grigoryi Oparin to take over the sole lead in the tournament. On second place is the Russian Vladimir Kramnik, who had an overwhelming position against Ian Nepomniachtchi and could have won almost as he pleased, but being up a piece in a rook ending, he allowed his opponent too much activity plus two connected passed pawns on the queenside that advanced further and further. In the end, Kramnik had to return the piece in order to stop the pawns and a drawn position was reached.

The first round of the 2017 KZCC already brought two decisive games: The winner of yesterday's opening blitz and tournament favorite Hikaru Nakamura gradually outplayed the Swiss Grandmaster Yannick Pelletier after a quiet, but venomous opening. The position had been level until the middle game, but then Pelletier allowed the American both to weaken his pawn strucuture on the king's wing and to gain the bishop pair. Nakamura showed his class and led the game into an ending where he could attack his opponent's weaknesses on both wings. In a hopeless situation with his queenside collapsing, Pelletier resigned.

All images credited to Rustam Kalimullin

The video of the Opening Ceremony, featuring a fantastic musical performance of four world-class musicians followed by the Opening Blitz won by Hikaru Nakamura is now available

In order to see the video from the start, just scroll forward to ca. 00:05:00.
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